'Internet in the Sky' Boosted

SAN MATEO (07/11/2000) - Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates is just one of a trio of investors that lately have sunk more than $1 billion into satellite broadband technology -- a proposed alternative to DSL and cable.

ICO-Teledisic Global Inc., in Bellevue, Wash. announced Tuesday the new funding, which will likely go toward the buildout of a constellation of new satellites that will host broadband services and advanced wireless capabilities.

ICO-Teledisic calls its approach "Internet-in-the-Sky" -- a plan that holds as its centerpiece a constellation of 288 low earth-orbiting satellites and ground stations. The company's proposed infrastructure comes with a price tag some say could top $10 billion.

ICO-Teledisic plans to launch the slew of satellites and harness them to offer IP-based mobile and fixed broadband services along with third generation (3G) wireless Internet and other packet data services.

In its latest round of funding, ICO-Teledisic received $100 million from Gates through his private investment firm, Cascade Investment LLC. In 1994, Gates signed on as one of the founding investors in Teledisic.

Eagle River Investments LLC, a private investment company owned by telecommunications pioneer Craig McCaw, kicked in $500 million. Another $350 million poured in from private equity investor group Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Inc. (CDR).

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